Monthly Archives: August 2013

Disregarding Scholarship on the Basis of an Author’s Religious Belief

ZealotIn “Attack on Religion Scholar Puts His Book on Jesus in the Spotlight“, published August 1 by The Chronicle of Higher Education, writer Peter Monaghan discusses the controversy surrounding Reza Aslan’s recent interview on Fox News about his new book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Random House, July 2013).  Zealot argues that “Jesus of Nazareth little resemble[d] the figure embraced by Christianity” where his motivations for writing the book were questioned during the interview, as he is a practicing Muslim.

“You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?” Lauren Green asked Mr. Aslan on “Spirited Debate,” to which Aslan explained, “I’m a scholar of religions with four degrees…who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who just happens to be a Muslim.”

What do you think? Is it legitimate to question one’s work on the basis of their identity or religious belief?

Read an excerpt from Zealot by clicking here.

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The Hidden Roots of Political Orientations

Our Political Nature HCBy Avi Tuschman, author of Our Political Nature (Prometheus Books, September 2013).

In 2002 I found myself traveling to the far corners of Peru, visiting the country’s largest mining and energy investments for a political-risk consultancy. Peru still had fresh scars from the recent Maoist guerilla war and counterinsurgency; and the conflicts festering over the earth’s assets kept these ideological specters very much alive. While gathering field intelligence, I encountered an unlikely collection of movers and shakers: the CEOs of fantastically wealthy corporations, communist defense fronts, indigenous leaders, priests, and authoritarian thugs. I also saw greed, corruption, and coercion. These experiences exposed me to radically different worldviews – and to political extremism. I was riveted by how one group’s notion of good represented another one’s idea of evil.

Since the mining-and-energy sector had billions of dollars at stake in the country, we also kept close tabs on the political dramas that unfolded within the national government. I grew fascinated by the story of the president and first lady, who was also a Stanford alumna and anthropologist. Soon after meeting her I became the youngest advisor in the Palace, where I worked on indigenous people’s affairs. Eventually, I was recruited as President Toledo’s Senior Writer. In this role I crafted articles with the seasoned statesman to shape public opinion. As we traveled around the world after his term, I had the privilege to work with numerous other presidents, and to meet prime ministers, secretaries of state, and legislators from five continents. Continue reading

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